Hiding in Plain Sight

Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us

by Jonathan Cook

CounterPunch (September 24 2018)

I rarely tell readers what to believe. Rather I try to indicate why it might be wise to distrust, at least without very good evidence, what those in power tell us we should believe.

We have well-known sayings about power: “Knowledge is power”, and “Power tends to corrupt, while absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely”. These aphorisms resonate because they say something true about how we experience the world. People who have power – even very limited power they hold on licence from someone else – tend to abuse it, sometimes subtly and unconsciously, and sometimes overtly and wilfully.

If we are reasonably self-aware, we can sense the tendency in ourselves to exploit to our advantage whatever power we enjoy, whether it is in our dealings with a spouse, our children, a friend, an employee, or just by the general use of our status to get ahead.

This isn’t usually done maliciously or even consciously. By definition, the hardest things to recognise are our own psychological, emotional and mental blind spots – and the biggest, at least for those born with class, gender, or race privileges, is realising that these too are forms of power.

Nonetheless, they are all minor forms of power compared to the power wielded collectively by the structures that dominate our societies: the financial sector, the corporations, the media, the political class, and the security services.

But strangely most of us are much readier to concede the corrupting influence of the relatively small power of individuals than we are the rottenness of vastly more powerful institutions and structures. We blame the school teacher or the politician for abusing his or her power while showing a reluctance to do the same about either the education or political systems in which they have to operate.

Similarly, we are happier identifying the excessive personal power of a Rupert Murdoch than we are the immense power of the corporate empire behind him and on which his personal wealth and success depend.

And beyond this, we struggle most of all to detect the structural and ideological framework underpinning or cohering all these discrete examples of power.

Narrative Control

It is relatively easy to understand that your line manager is abusing his power because he has so little of it. His power is visible to you because it relates only to you and the small group of people around you.

It is a little harder, but not too difficult, to identify the abusive policies of your firm – the low pay, cuts in overtime, attacks on union representation.

It is more difficult to see the corrupt power of large institutions, aside occasionally from the corruption of senior figures within those institutions, such as a Robert Maxwell or a Richard Nixon.

But it is all but impossible to appreciate the corrupt nature of the entire system. And the reason is right there in those aphorisms: absolute power depends on absolute control over knowledge, which in turn necessitates absolute corruption. If that were not the case, we wouldn’t be dealing with serious power – as should be obvious, if we pause to think about it.

Real power in our societies derives from that which is necessarily hard to see – structures, ideology, and narratives – not individuals. Any Murdoch or Trump can be felled, though being loyal acolytes of the power-system they rarely are, should they threaten the necessary maintenance of power by these interconnected institutions, these structures.

The current neoliberal elite who effectively rule the planet have reached as close to absolute power as any elite in human history. And because they have near-absolute power, they have a near-absolute control of the official narratives about our societies and our “enemies”, those who stand in their way to global domination.

No Questions about Skripals

One needs only to look at the narrative about the two men, caught on CCTV cameras, who have recently been accused by our political and media class of using a chemical agent to try to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia back in March.

I don’t claim to know whether Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov work for the Russian security services, or whether they were dispatched by Vladimir Putin on a mission to Salisbury to kill the Skripals.

What is clear, however, is that the British intelligence services have been feeding the British corporate media a self-serving, drip-drip narrative from the outset and that the media have shown precisely no interest at any point in testing any part of this narrative or even questioning it. They have been entirely passive which means that we, their readers, have been entirely passive too.

That there are questions about the narrative to be raised is obvious if you turn away from the compliant corporate media and seek out the views of an independent-minded, one-time insider such as Craig Murray.

A former British ambassador, Murray is asking questions that may prove to be pertinent or not. At this stage, when all we have to rely on is what the intelligence services are selectively providing, these kinds of doubts should be driving the inquiries of any serious journalist covering the story. But as is so often the case, not only are these questions not being raised or investigated but anyone like Murray who thinks critically – who assumes that the powerful will seek to promote their interests and avoid accountability – is instantly dismissed as a conspiracy theorist or in Putin’s pocket.

That is no meaningful kind of critique. Many of the questions that have been raised – like why there are so many gaps in the CCTV record of the movements of both the Skripals and the two assumed assassins – could be answered if there was an interest in doing so. The evasion and the smears simply suggest that power intends to remain unaccountable, that it is keeping itself concealed, that the narrative is more important than the truth.

And that is reason enough to move from questioning the narrative to distrusting it.

Ripples on a Lake

Journalists typically have a passive relationship to power, in stark contrast to their image as tenacious watchdogs. But more fundamental than control over narrative is the ideology that guides these narratives. Ideology ensures the power-system is invisible not only to us, those who are abused and exploited by it, but also to those who benefit from it.

It is precisely because power resides in structures and ideology, rather than individuals, that it is so hard to see. And the power-structures themselves are made yet more difficult to identify because the narratives created about our societies are designed to conceal those structures and ideology – where real power resides – by focusing instead on individuals.

That is why our newspapers and TV shows are full of stories about personalities – celebrities, royalty, criminals, politicians. They are made visible so we fail to notice the ideological structures we live inside, which are supposed to remain invisible.

News and entertainment are the ripples on a lake, not the lake itself. But the ripples could not exist without the lake that forms and shapes them.

Up Against the Screen

If this sounds like hyperbole, let’s stand back from our particular ideological system – neoliberalism – and consider earlier ideological systems in the hope that they offer some perspective. At the moment, we are like someone standing right up against an IMAX screen, so close that we cannot see that there is a screen or even guess that there is a complete picture. All we see are moving colours and pixels. Maybe we can briefly infer a mouth, the wheel of a vehicle, a gun.

Before neoliberalism, there were other systems of rule. There was, for example, feudalism that appropriated a communal resource – land – exclusively for an aristocracy. It exploited the masses by forcing them to toil on the land for a pittance to generate the wealth that supported castles, a clergy, manor houses, art collections, and armies. For several centuries the power of this tiny elite went largely unquestioned.

But then a class of entrepreneurs emerged, challenging the landed aristocracy with a new means of industrialised production. They built factories and took advantage of scales of economy that slightly widened the circle of privilege, creating a middle class. That elite, and the middle-class that enjoyed crumbs from their master’s table, lived off the exploitation of children in workhouses and the labour of a new urban poor in slum housing.

These eras were systematically corrupt, enabling the elites of those times to extend and entrench their power. Each elite produced justifications to placate the masses who were being exploited, to brainwash them into believing the system existed as part of a natural order or even for their benefit. The aristocracy relied on a divine right of kings, the capitalist class on the guiding hand of the free market and bogus claims of equality of opportunity.

In another hundred years, if we still exist as a species, our system will look no less corrupt – probably more so – than its predecessors.

Neoliberalism, late-stage capitalism, plutocratic rule by corporations – whatever you wish to call it – has allowed a tiny elite to stash away more wealth and accrue more power than any feudal monarch could ever have dreamt of. And because of the global reach of this elite, its corruption is more endemic, more complete, more destructive than any ever known to mankind.

A foreign policy elite can destroy the world several times over with nuclear weapons. A globalised corporate elite is filling the oceans with the debris from our consumption and chopping down the forest-lungs of our planet for palm-oil plantations so we can satisfy our craving for biscuits and cake. And our media and intelligence services are jointly crafting a narrative of bogeymen and James Bond villains – both in Hollywood movies and in our news programmes – to make us fearful and pliable.

Assumptions of Inevitability

Most of us abuse our own small-power thoughtlessly, even self-righteously. We tell ourselves that we gave the kids a “good spanking” because they were naughty, rather than because we established with them early on a power relationship that confusingly taught them that the use of force and coercion came with a parental stamp of approval.

Those in greater power, from minions in the media to executives of major corporations, are no different. They are as incapable of questioning the ideology and the narrative – how inevitable and “right” our neoliberal system is – as the rest of us. But they play a vital part in maintaining and entrenching that system nonetheless.

David Cromwell and David Edwards of Media Lens have provided two analogies – in the context of the media – that help explain how it is possible for individuals and groups to assist and enforce systems of power without having any conscious intention to do so, and without being aware that they are contributing to something harmful. Without, in short, being aware that they are conspiring in the system.

The First:

When a shoal of fish instantly changes direction, it looks for all the world as though the movement was synchronized by some guiding hand. Journalists – all trained and selected for obedience by media all seeking to maximize profits within state-capitalist society – tend to respond to events in the same way.

The Second:

Place a square wooden framework on a flat surface and pour into it a stream of ball bearings, marbles, or other round objects. Some of the balls may bounce out, but many will form a layer within the wooden framework; others will then find a place atop this first layer. In this way, the flow of ball bearings steadily builds new layers that inevitably produce a pyramid-style shape. This experiment is used to demonstrate how near-perfect crystalline structures such as snowflakes arise in nature without conscious design.

The system – whether feudalism, capitalism, neoliberalism – emerges out of the real-world circumstances of those seeking power most ruthlessly. In a time when the key resource was land, a class emerged justifying why it should have exclusive rights to control that land and the labour needed to make it productive. When industrial processes developed, a class emerged demanding that it had proprietary rights to those processes and to the labour needed to make them productive.

Our Place in the Pyramid

In these situations, we need to draw on something like Darwin’s evolutionary “survival of the fittest” principle. Those few who are most hungry for power, those with least empathy, will rise to the top of the pyramid, finding themselves best-placed to exploit the people below. They will rationalise this exploitation as a divine right, or as evidence of their inherently superior skills, or as proof of the efficiency of the market.

And below them, like the layers of ball bearings, will be those who can help them maintain and expand their power: those who have the skills, education, and socialisation to increase profits and sell brands.

All of this should be obvious, even non-controversial. It fits what we experience of our small-power lives. Does bigger power operate differently? After all, if those at the top of the power-pyramid were not hungry for power, even psychopathic in its pursuit, if they were caring and humane, worried primarily about the well-being of their workforce and the planet, they would be social workers and environmental activists, not CEOs of media empires and arms manufacturers.

And yet, base your political thinking on what should be truisms, articulate a worldview that distrusts those with the most power because they are the most capable of – and committed to – misusing it, and you will be derided. You will be called a conspiracy theorist, dismissed as deluded. You will be accused of wearing a tinfoil hat, of sour grapes, of being anti-American, a social warrior, paranoid, an Israel-hater or anti-semitic, pro-Putin, pro-Assad, a Marxist.

None of this should surprise us either. Because power – not just the people in the system, but the system itself – will use whatever tools it has to protect itself. It is easier to deride critics as unhinged – especially when you control the media, the politicians, and the education system –  than it is to provide a counter-argument.

In fact, it is vital to prevent any argument or real debate from taking place. Because the moment we think about the arguments, weigh them, use our critical faculties, there is a real danger that the scales will fall from our eyes. There is a real threat that we will move back from the screen, and see the whole picture.

Can we see the complete picture of the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury; or the US election that led to Trump being declared president; or the revolution in Ukraine; or the causes and trajectory of fighting in Syria, and before it Libya and Iraq; or the campaign to discredit Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party; or the true implications of the banking crisis a decade ago?

Profit, not Ethics

Just as a feudal elite was driven not by ethics but by the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of land; just as early capitalists were driven not by ethics but by the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of mechanization; so neoliberalism is driven not by ethics but the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of the planet.

The only truth we can know is that the western power-elite is determined to finish the task of making its power fully global, expanding it from near-absolute to absolute. It cares nothing for you or your grand-children. It is a cold-calculating system, not a friend or neighbor. It lives for the instant gratification of wealth accumulation, not concern about the planet’s fate tomorrow.

And because of that, it is structurally bound to undermine or discredit anyone, any group, any state that stands in the way of achieving its absolute dominion.

If that is not the thought we hold uppermost in our minds as we listen to a politician, read a newspaper, watch a film or TV show, absorb an ad, or engage on social media, then we are sleepwalking into a future the most powerful, the most ruthless, the least caring have designed for us.

Step back, and take a look at the whole screen. And decide whether this is really the future you wish for your grand-children.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/24/hiding-in-plain-sight-why-we-cannot-see-the-system-destroying-us/

The US Would Face No “Threats” …

… if It Kept its Troops & War Machines Inside Its Own Borders

by Finian Cunningham

Information Clearing House (October 29 2018)

So the United States is pulling out of a key arms-control agreement, complaining it is the only party in compliance, and therefore it wants to have the right to deploy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

John Bolton, the national-security adviser to President Trump, was in Moscow this week meeting Russian leader Vladimir Putin and other senior Kremlin officials. Bolton huffed that the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was obsolete from the US point of view.

“There’s a new strategic reality out there”, said the American official. The INF, signed in 1987, is “a bilateral treaty in a multipolar ballistic missile world”.

He was referring to countries like China, Iran, and North Korea, which the US claims have built up arsenals of ballistic missiles prohibited by the INF. Those countries are not in violation of the said treaty because the INF was an agreement signed only by the US and the Soviet Union, later becoming the Russian Federation.

The INF banned ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers.

By quitting the treaty, the US would, in theory, be free to deploy medium-range nuclear and non-nuclear ballistic missiles on the territories of European Nato members. That is, return to the situation of the early 1980s before the INF was agreed by then-president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The US would also be free to make similar deployments in its Pacific bases and allied countries, such as Japan and South Korea.

However, it is doubtful if Washington would be able to do this without causing major political problems with its allies. This week, European leaders strongly protested against the US plan to withdraw from the INF. Even the usually obliging Norwegian head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, said European countries would not welcome the return of American nuclear missiles on their soil.

Washington for several years now has been accusing Russia of violating the INF, for allegedly developing a ground-based cruise missile. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claim, pointing out that the US has not presented any evidence to support its accusation.

For its part, Moscow says the US is the party that is in violation of the treaty from its installation of Aegis Ashore missile systems in Romania and Poland.

What could be the real cause of American concern is Russia’s new Kalibr cruise missiles that are launched from navy ships. The missile was used with devastating success against militant groups in Syria, launched from the Caspian Sea, and covering a distance of over 1,000 kilometers. Sea-launched missiles are not banned by the INF.

In any case, the missiles pertinent to the INF, whether belonging to Russia, China, or some other nation are only a threat to US forces because American military power is increasingly deployed closer to those countries.

The US military has troops in an estimated 150 countries around the world. That’s a global military footprint covering nearly eighty percent of all nations on the planet. Given that inordinate spread of US military, it is easy to see why American officials perceive “threats”. It’s a bit like a thief marauding outside homes and then complaining that the homeowners are installing “threatening” burglar protection systems.

By contrast, Russian and Chinese military forces are predominantly confined to their respective national territories. Last month, when Russia conducted its Vostok-2018 war maneuvers in Siberia and the Far East, they were described as the largest-ever military mobilization by Moscow since the end of the Cold War. But let’s not forget, Russia’s war drills are always held within its territory.

This week, the US-led Nato alliance is conducting its biggest-ever war drills since the Cold War in the North Atlantic, Scandinavia, and Baltic Sea. More than thirty nations are participating with a total of 50,000 troops and hundreds of aircraft and warships. The Trident Juncture mobilization will be held for the next four weeks and comes within 500 kilometers of Russian territory.

The anomalous imbalance should be glaringly obvious. Russia conducts its war drills within its own borders, which is its sovereign right; while American and allied forces are conducting simulated offensive actions on Russia’s doorstep.

The same double-think applies to the Trump administration’s complaint that Russia and others are in breach of the INF. If American forces were not encroaching on the territory of Russia and China, then they wouldn’t have cause for perceived threats.

The distance between Beijing and San Francisco on the US west coast is nearly 10,000 kilometers. At its closest, the American state of Alaska is about 6,000 kilometers from Beijing. Those ranges are beyond the 5,500 kilometers upper limit of the INF. The point is that INF-type missiles from China or North Korea do not threaten US mainland territory. The only reason why US interests are “threatened” is because American forces are deployed in the vicinity of these countries, such as in the South China Sea, or in South Korea and Japan.

The next category of missile up is the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). They are covered by the New START treaty. American officials, including John Bolton, are showing a tepid regard about renewing START when it expires in 2021. Many observers, including Americans, are concerned that with the scrapping of the INF by the US, then the last remaining arms-control treaty will also be abandoned. That then could unleash a new global arms race and greatly increase the risk of a nuclear war.

Lamentably, the US is tearing up the INF, as it did previously with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, based on irrational arguments.

US military forces are only “threatened” because its forces are in everyone’s face in far-flung corners of the planet. Short- and medium-range “threats” would not be threats if America kept its troops and war machines within its own borders.

Donald Trump was elected partly on the promise to scale back US overseas militarism. It has turned out to be an empty and futile promise. That’s because American militarism is a vital, incorrigible function of its ambitions for domination of the planet. Ripping up arms-controls treaties is the corollary of such a monstrous military machine. Ironically, the treaties are trashed because the poor little American monster says it is being “threatened”.

_____

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly twenty years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times, and The Independent.

This article was originally published at https://www.rt.com/op-ed/442319-threat-us-military-border-nuclear/,

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In the Heart of a Dying Empire

The Adolts in the Room (and No, That Is Not a Typo!)

by Tom Engelhardt

TomDispatch (September 27 2018)

When you think about it, Earth is a relatively modest-sized planet – about 25,000 miles in circumference at the Equator, with a total surface area of 197 million square miles, almost three-quarters of which is water. It’s not so hard, if you’re in a certain frame of mind (as American officials were after 1991), to imagine that a single truly great nation – a “sole superpower” with a high-tech military, its capabilities unparalleled in history – might in some fashion control it all.

Think back to that year when the other superpower, the lesser one of that era, so unbelievably went down for the count. Try to recall that moment when the Soviet Union, its economy imploding, suddenly was no more, its various imperial parts – from Eastern Europe to Central Asia – having largely spun free. It’s hard now to remember just how those months after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and that final moment in 1991 stunned the Washington establishment. Untold sums of money had been poured into “intelligence” during the almost half-century of what became known as the Cold War (because a hot war between two nuclear-armed superpowers seemed unimaginable – even if it almost happened). Nonetheless, key figures in Washington were remarkably unprepared for it all to end. They were stunned. It simply hadn’t occurred to them that the global standoff between the last two great powers on this planet could or would ever truly be over.

And when you think about it, that wasn’t so illogical. Imperial rivalries had been the name of the game for so many centuries. A world without some version of such rivalries seemed genuinely unimaginable – until, of course, it happened. After the shock began to wear off, what followed was triumphalism of a soaring sort. Think of that moment as the geopolitical equivalent of a drug high.

Imagine! After so many centuries of rivalries between great powers and that final showdown between just two superpowers, it was all over (except for the bragging). Only one power, the – by definition – greatest of all, was left on a planet obviously there for the taking.

Yes, Russia still existed with its nuclear arsenal intact, but it was otherwise a husk of its former imperial self. (Vladimir Putin’s sleight-of-hand brilliance has been to give what remains a rickety petro-state the look of a great power, as in MRGA, or Make Russia Great Again.) In 1991, China had only relatively recently emerged from the chaos of the Maoist era and was beginning its rise as a capitalist powerhouse overseen by a communist party – and, until that moment, who would have believed that either? Its military was modest and its leaders not faintly ready to challenge the US. It was far more intent on becoming a cog in the global economic machinery that would produce endless products for American store shelves.

In fact, the only obvious challenges that remained came from a set of states so unimpressive that no one would have thought to call them “great”, no less “super” powers. They had already come to be known instead by the ragtag term “rogue states”. Think theocratic Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and Kim Il-sung’s (soon to be Kim Jong-il’s) North Korea, none then nuclear armed. A disparate crew – the Iraqis and Iranians had been at war for eight years in the 1980s – they looked like a pushover for … well, you know who.

And the early results of American global preeminence couldn’t have been more promising. Its corporate power initially seemed to “level” every playing field in sight, while conquering markets across the planet. Its thoroughly high-tech military crushed the armed forces of one rogue power, Iraq, in a hundred-hour storm of a war in 1991. Amid a blizzard of ticker tape and briefly soaring approval ratings for President George H W Bush, this was seen by those in the know as a preview of the world that was to be.

So what a perfect time – I’m talking about January 2000 – for some of the greatest geopolitical dreamers of all, a crew that saw an “unprecedented strategic opportunity” in the new century to organize not half the planet, as in the Cold War, but the whole damn thing. They took power by a chad that year, already fearing that the process of creating the kind of military that could truly do their bidding might be a slow one without “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”. On September 11 2001, thanks to Osama bin Laden’s precision air assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they got their wish – what screaming newspaper headlines promptly called “a new day of infamy” or “the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century”. Like their confreres in 1991, the top officials of George W Bush’s administration were initially stunned by the event but soon found themselves swept up in a mood of soaring optimism about the future of both the Republican Party and American power. Their dream, as they launched what they called the Global War on Terror, would be nothing short of creating an eternal Pax Republicana in the US and a similarly never-ending Pax Americana first in the Greater Middle East and then on a potentially planetary scale.

As their 2002 national security strategy put it, the US was to “build and maintain” military power “beyond challenge” so that no country or even bloc of countries could ever again come close to matching it. For them, this was the functional definition of global dominance. It gave the phrase of that moment, “shock and awe”, new meaning.

A Smash-Up on the Horizon?

Of course, you remember this history as well as I do, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to jump into the future with me and land in September 2018, some seventeen years later, when all those plans to create a truly American planet had come to fruition and the US was dominant in a way no other country had ever been.

Whoops … my mistake.

It is indeed seventeen years later. Remarkably enough, though, the last superpower, the one with the military that was, as President George W Bush put it, “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known”, is still fruitlessly fighting – and still losing ground – in the very first country it took on and supposedly “liberated”: poor Afghanistan. The Taliban is again on the rise there. Elsewhere, al-Qaeda, stronger than ever, has franchised itself, multiplied, and in Iraq given birth to another terror outfit, ISIS, whose own franchises are now multiplying across parts of the planet. In no country in which the US military intervened in this century or in which it simply supported allied forces in a conflict against seemingly weaker, less-well-armed enemies has there been an obvious, lasting victory of the kind that seemed so self-evidently an American right and legacy after 1991 and again 2001.

In fact, there may not be another example of a truly great power, seemingly at the height of its strength and glory, so unable to impose its will, no matter the brutality and destructive force employed. The United States had, of course, been able to do exactly that, often with striking success (at least for a while), from Guatemala to Iran in the Cold War years, but “alone” on the planet, it came up cold. Of those three rogue powers of the 1990s, for instance, Iran and North Korea are now stronger (one of them even nuclear-armed) and neither, despite the desires and plans of so many American officials, has been toppled. Meanwhile, Iraq, after a US invasion and occupation in 2003, has proven a never-ending disaster area.

Not that anyone’s drawing lessons from any of this at the moment, perhaps because there’s that orange-haired guy in the Oval Office taking up so much of our time and attention or because there’s an understandable desire to duck the most obvious conclusion: that Planet Earth, however small, is evidently still too big for one power, however economically overwhelming or militarily dominant, to control. Think of the last 27 years of American history as a demo for that old idiom: biting off more than you can chew.

In 2016, in what came to be known as the “homeland”, American voters responded to that reality in a visceral way. They elected as president a truly strange figure, a man who alone among the country’s politicians was peddling the idea that the US was no longer great but, like Putin’s Russia, would have to be made great again. Donald Trump, as I wrote during that campaign season, was the first presidential candidate to promote the idea that the United States was in decline at a moment when politicians generally felt obliged to affirm that the US was the greatest, most exceptional, most indispensable place on the planet. And, of course, he won.

Admittedly, despite a near collapse a decade earlier, the economy is seemingly soaring, while the stock market remains ebullient. In fact, it couldn’t look sunnier, could it? I mean, put aside the usual Trumpian tweets and the rest of the Washington sideshow, including those Chinese (and Canadian) tariffs and the bluster and bombast of the leakiest administration this side of the Titanic, and, as the president so often says, things couldn’t look rosier. The Dow Jones average has left past versions of the same in the dust. The unemployment rate is somewhere near the bottom of the barrel (if you don’t count the actual unemployed). The economy is just booming along.

But tell me the truth: Can’t you just feel it? Honestly, can’t you?

You know as well as I do that there’s something rotten in … well, let’s not blame Denmark … but you know perfectly well that something’s not right here. You know that it’s the wallets and pocketbooks of the one percent that are really booming, expanding, exploding at the moment; that the rich have inherited, if not the Earth, then at least American politics; that the wealth possessed by that one percent is now at levels not seen since the eve of the Great Depression of 1929. And, honestly, can you doubt that the next crash is somewhere just over the horizon?

Meet the Empire Burners

Donald Trump is in the White House exactly because, in these years, so many Americans felt instinctively that something was going off the tracks. (That shouldn’t be a surprise, given the striking lack of investment in, or upkeep of, the infrastructure of the greatest of all powers.) He’s there largely thanks to the crew that’s now proudly referred to – for supposedly keeping him in line – as “the adults in the room”. Let me suggest a small correction to that phrase to better reflect the sixteen years in this not-so-new century before he entered the Oval Office. How about “the adolts in the room”?

After all, from National Security Advisor John Bolton (the invasion of Iraq) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (a longtime regime-change advocate) to CIA Director Gina Haspel (black sites and torture), Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis (former Marine general and CENTCOM commander), and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (former Marine general and a commander in Iraq), those adolts and so many like them remain deeply implicated in the path the country took in those years of geopolitical dreaming. They were especially responsible for the decision to invest in the US military (and little else), as well as in endless wars, in the years before Donald Trump came to power. And worse yet, they seem to have learned absolutely nothing from the process.

Take a recent example we know something about – Afghanistan – thanks to Fear: Trump in the White House (2018), Bob Woodward’s bestselling new book. Only recently, an American sergeant major, an adviser to Afghan troops, was gunned down at a base near the Afghan capital, Kabul, in an “insider” or “green-on-blue” attack, a commonplace of that war. He was killed (and another American adviser wounded) by two allied Afghan police officers in the wake of an American air strike in the same area in which more than a dozen of their compatriots died. Forty-two years old and on the eve of retirement, the sergeant was on his seventh combat tour of duty of this century and, had he had an eighth, he might have served with an American born after the 9/11 attacks.

In his book, Woodward describes a National Security Council meeting in August 2017, in which the adolts in the room saved the president from his worst impulses. He describes how an impatient Donald Trump

 

… exploded, most particularly at his generals. You guys have created this situation. It’s been a disaster. You’re the architects of this mess in Afghanistan … You’re smart guys, but I have to tell you, you’re part of the problem. And you haven’t been able to fix it, and you’re making it worse … I was against this from the beginning. He folded his arms. “I want to get out … and you’re telling me the answer is to get deeper in”.

 

And indeed almost sixteen years later that is exactly what Pompeo, Mattis, former National Security Advisor H R McMaster, and the rest of them were telling him. According to Woodward, Mattis, for instance, argued forcefully “that if they pulled out, they would create another ISIS-style upheaval … What happened in Iraq under Obama with the emergence of ISIS will happen under you, Mattis told Trump, in one of his sharpest declarations”.

The reported presidential response:

 

 

“You are all telling me that I have to do this”, Trump said grudgingly, “and I guess that’s fine and we’ll do it, but I still think you’re wrong. I don’t know what this is for. It hasn’t gotten us anything. We’ve spent trillions”, he exaggerated. “We’ve lost all these lives”. Yet, he acknowledged, they probably could not cut and run and leave a vacuum for al-Qaeda, Iran, and other terrorists.

 


And so Donald Trump became the latest surge president, authorizing, however grudgingly, the dispatching of yet more American troops and air power to Afghanistan (just as he recently authorized an “indefinite military effort” in Syria in the wake of what we can only imagine was another such exchange). Of Mattis himself, in response to reports that he might be on the way out after the midterm elections, the president recently responded, “He’ll stay … we’re very happy with him, we’re having a lot of victories, we’re having victories that people don’t even know about”.

Perhaps that should be considered definitional for the Trump presidency, which is likely to increasingly find itself in a world of “victories that people don’t even know about”. But don’t for a second think that The Donald was the one who brought us to this state, though someday he will undoubtedly be seen as the personification of it and of the decline that swept him into power. And for all that, for the victories that people won’t know about and the defeats that they will, he’ll have the adolts in the room to thank. They proved to be neither the empire builders of their dreams, nor even empire preservers, but a crew of potential empire burners.

Believe me, folks, it’s going to be anything but pretty. Welcome to that most unpredictable and dangerous of entities, a dying empire. Only 27 years after the bells of triumph tolled across Washington, it looks like those bells are now preparing to toll in mourning for it.

_____

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture (2007). He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War (2018).

Note: My special thanks go to two old friends, Jim Peck, author of Ideal Illusions, How the US Government Co-opted Human Rights (2011), and Nancy Milton for their thoughts and contributions to this piece. Tom

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story (2018) and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War (2018), as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (2017), John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II (2017), and John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands (2016).

Copyright 2018 Tom Engelhardt

(c) 2018 TomDispatch. All rights reserved.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176473/

Washington Renders Itself Irrelevant …

… by Pushing China and Russia Closer Together

by Martin Berger

New Eastern Outlook (August 01 2018)

https://journal-neo.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/

As the trade war unleashed by Washington is getting momentum, one can’t help but notice that without bringing a massive propaganda campaign to bear, aimed at the spread Russophobia and Sinophobia, this war would have never come to fruition. However, all of the steps that Washington has already taken against Moscow and Beijing are only making the two states more determined to provide a counterweight to the policies pursued by the West together. However, the stance taken by the Trump administration is not the only reason behind the rapidly improving ties between Moscow and Beijing, as their cooperation is beneficial from a purely practical point of view, which means the desire that the two countries share to establish a lasting alliance is not going to suddenly disappear one day. Moreover, those countries that don’t like to be pushed around by Washington and that are getting increasingly critical of its policies may become a viable addition of this newly born alliance one day.

As it’s been pointed out by The Daily Beast, Henry Kissinger has already suggested to Donald Trump that the United States should be working with Russia to contain a rising China. It would go even further revealing that the former secretary of state, who famously engineered the tactic of establishing diplomatic relations with China in order to isolate the Soviet Union, pitched almost the inverse of that idea to Trump during a series of private meetings during the presidential transition.

However, the piece of advice given by the patriarch of American foreign policy fell on deaf ears, which resulted in Russia’s Vladimir Putin announcing during one of his recent visits to Beijing, the commitment that Russian and China show towards the development of bilateral ties is a major asset that paves the way for the peaceful development of the world.

And one should hardly be surprised by this fact, as China is forced to remain mindful of new restrictions that Washington can introduce against in the trade world, especially at a time when the US and China announce new measures almost every week. So it must keep Russia really close, transforming otherwise normal bilateral relations into a strategic alliance.

For instance, Trump has recently targeted the “Made in China 2025” that is aimed at setting China to produce an ever-increasing number of high-tech goods, but the sitting US president chose to accuse Beijing of manipulating its currency, instead of supporting this initiative. An accusation China has denied vigorously.

It’s true that the trade restrictions that Washington has unleashed against Beijing can be partially explained by the stagnation in Western economies, which are in pretty bad shape. A lot of money is used for speculation around here, which undermines the stability of the financial sector.

The US wants to maintain its leading position by using protectionism. But the only result will be an increase in trade between Russia, China, and other BRICS members.

It’s been noted that for a couple decades, Russia has been fruitlessly trying to turn the Northern Sea Route, which connects Asia and Europe along Russia’s northern coastline, into a viable commercial shipping route. But it could as well fail without China’s capital finally making this long-sought dream a viable possibility. The idea has a massive appeal for Chinese shipping companies since it would shave thousands of miles off the trip between ports in China and Europe, saving both time and money. It also has appeal for Chinese policymakers, that remain stressed that a number of viable sea routes may be one day sealed by the US Navy.

That’s why one shouldn’t be surprised to learn that a military component remains extremely strong in the rapidly improving ties between Moscow and Beijing, which is reflected in all of the major interactions between two countries. Last year, the military departments of Russian and Beijing signed a comprehensive roadmap that lays down all the major aspects of military cooperation between the two states by the year 2020.

This presents a major challenge for Washington since Russia is capable of massively improving the combat potential of Chinese armed forces, especially of its marine and air forces, as Moscow possesses a lot of technologies that remained unattainable for all of the major international players until it started sharing them with Beijing. For instance, the development of Chinese anti-missile capabilities may result in the situation when Washington will not be able to act as the sole master of the Asia-Pacific region.

Although there has never been an official formal announcement of an alliance being created, China and Russia have enhanced their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination that has kept operating at a high level. It is clear that Beijing and Moscow perceive the United States and its allies as “the significant external threat that is increasingly impairing their individual and common core interests as well”. That is why the leaders of China and Russia, Xi and Putin, have shared their personal friendship on many occasions and vowed to maintain steady coordination in playing a greater role in international affairs.

As it’s been pointed out by Modern Diplomacy, both China and Russia have their own disadvantages in terms of the great power status. China is still a developing country in terms of domestic issues and high-tech innovation. Russia is regarded as an emerging power since it has relied on too much natural resources export and has been evidently behind in overall productivities. Yet, both of these powers have huge potentials which are compatible with each other in strategic weaponry system and vast manufacture. In a geopolitical sense, the two sides are neighboring countries that bestow them a huge strategic depth to coordinate and support each other, including the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. As the key members of the emerging powers bloc – BRICS, China, and Russia have actually acted to preserve the current rules rather than violating them. For example, they both oppose Washington’s trade protectionism, which is shaking the global trading system based on rules, violating the WTO rules, and hitting the just-revived world economy.

There’s no arguing with the notion that by looking into the immense resources and capacities of the two countries, it is unwise for any power to ignore the fact that China and Russia have their legitimate rights in world politics. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, the growing complex and unpredictable international reality requires China and Russia to work together to strengthen their cooperation and coordination. Meanwhile, the two powers have reiterated that the United Nations should play a more commanding role in foreign affairs. To that end, a multipolar world order rather than unilateralism is legitimately accepted and unwaveringly maintained.

Washington remains mindful of the current state of the Russian-Chinese relation, which has been reflected in the latest revision of Washington’s National Defense Strategy. However, by trying to preserve its role of a sole hegemon for whatever cost, there’s a real chance that the US might have missed the ship that has pretty much already sailed.

_____

Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

https://journal-neo.org/2018/08/01/washington-renders-itself-irrelevant-by-pushing-china-and-russia-closer-together/

When America Was Great

Savage White Un-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulted a Planet

by Paul Street

https://www.counterpunch.org (October 26 2018)


Photo Source Pamela Andrade | CC BY 2.0

 

Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings … are … a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

– Frederick Douglass, July 4th 1852

 

“Together”, Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump told US Naval Academy graduates last May, “there is nothing Americans can’t do, absolutely nothing. In recent years, and even decades”, Trump added, “too many people have forgotten that truth. They’ve forgotten that our ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over the worst evils in history.”

I was reminded of Trump’s statement recently as I reflected on the remarkable record of climate-change driven extreme weather events that have hit the United States in recent years. Epic wild-fires, droughts, rains, floods, tornadoes, snowfalls, and hurricanes are humbling US-America. They are only a foretaste of the stern continental taming US-Americans can expect at the hands of Mother Nature in coming years. (More on that below.)

Where was one to begin in processing the untruth and affront embedded in Trump’s reflection on how “America” was once “great”?

“Our ancestors”? I have a paternal grandfather who may have been descended from original eighteenth or even seventeenth century Scotch-Irish immigrants to North America, but my largest ethnic strain is Finnish, thanks to the Luhtala family’s “chain migration” to DeKalb, Illinois in the early twentieth century, long after the closing of the western US frontier. (The Luhtalas worked in barbed-wire plants to help the continent’s capitalist “tamers”/takers mark their territorial conquests off as private property.) Like hundreds of millions of other US-Americans, I have ancestors who came long after the nation’s original white and mostly English, Irish, and German “settlers”. (Currently, fourteen percent of the US population is foreign-born, the largest percentage since 1910, right after my Finnish great-grandparents arrived, when fifteen percent of US-Americans were born in other countries.)

These “ancestors … trounced an empire”? Not really. The US merely broke off from the Western edge of the British Empire, which would go on to rule the world like no global hegemon until the post-World War Two Pax Americana (more on that lovely formation below). The British Empire had a pretty damn good run from the end of the Napoleonic Wars through the rest of the nineteenth century.

For what it’s worth, the propertied masters atop the so-called American Revolution understood their new slave-owning republic as an empire – an “empire of liberty”, they called it, with no sense of irony given their dedication to the ruthless ethnic cleansing (to use a twentieth century phrase) of the nation’s original inhabits and the expansion of Black chattel slavery.

“Tamed a continent”? Leaving aside the fact that Canada and Mexico also hold much of the North America, Trump’s phrase was an insolent slight of the continent’s original inhabitants. Here the president channeled the original “settlers” concept of the ten to eighteen million human beings who lived in North America prior to white-European invasion as pre-historic “savages” who required the stern hand of the “civilized” white man to impose order.

It was Orwellian twaddle and truth inversion. The continent’s First Nations people were highly civilized, unscathed by class rule, and harmoniously connected to the natural environment in ways that hold critical significance for human and other living things in our current age of capitalist ecocide, As the Native American author and activist Ward Churchill wrote more than two decades ago:

 

On … the day Christopher Columbus first washed up on a Caribbean beach, North America was long since endowed with an abundant and exceedingly complex cluster of civilizations. Having continuously occupied the continent for at least 50,000 years, the native inhabitants evidenced a total population of perhaps fifteen million, cities as large as the 40,000-resident urban center at Cahokia (in present-day Illinois), highly advanced conceptions of architecture and engineering, spiritual traditions embodying equivalents to modern eco-science, refined knowledge of pharmacology and holistic medicine, and highly sophisticated systems of governance, trade, and diplomacy. The traditional economies of the continent were … based in environmentally sound farming procedures which originated well over half the vegetal foodstuffs now consumed by peoples the world over. By and large, the indigenous societies demonstrating such attainments were organized along extremely egalitarian lines, with real property held collectively and matrifocality a normative standard.

 

Pre-Conquest North America contained “large-scale societies which had perfected ways of organizing themselves into psychologically fulfilling wholes, experiencing very high standards of living, and still maintaining environmental harmony … War, in the Euro-derived sense in which the term is understood today” – as highly organized mass annihilation – “was”, Churchill noted, “unknown” among and between the First Nations.

Also unknown in the continent’s original civilizations was economic inequality and poverty on anything remotely like the scale of early modern Europe. The Old World was home to a capitalist order whose relentless enclosure of the European commons and destruction of independent farmer and artisan livelihoods generated a surplus population desperate to spill onto North America. Now the US itself hosts savage inequalities – the top tenth of the nation’s One Percent owns as much wealth as the bottom ninety percent and its riches three persons have as much net worth between as the bottom half – that make Western Europe (incubator of modern class rule) look egalitarian.

Tamed a continent? It was more like raped a continent. The “Indians” (absurdly so misnamed because the “settlers” mistakenly thought they had discovered “the Indes”) were seen by “Predator” – Churchill’s understandable (from an indigenist perspective) term for the European invaders – as animalized brutes fit for elimination and removal even as the newcomers incorporated numerous aspects of Native American culture (moccasins, canoes, and more). A lethal combination of germs, superior numbers, technology, and killing capacities – including the moral capacity to wipe out whole villages with no more spiritual discomfort than that involved in shooting deer and coyotes – inflicted astonishing population decline on Native North America. One after another, original North American nations and tribes were liquidated and dispersed. “By 1890”, Churchill noted, “fewer than 250,000 Indians remained alive within the United States, a degree of decimation extending into the upper ninetieth percentile”.

Predator’s massacre chain ran from Connecticut Captain John Mason’s burning and shooting of hundreds of Pequot villagers near Mystic River in May of 1637 through terrible events like the so-called Battle (massacre) of Bad Axe (1832) and the Sand Creek Massacre (1864) to the Wounded Knee bloodbath (the so-called Battle of Wounded Knee) in December of 1891, when the US Calvary killed 150 to 300 Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The United States’ beloved first president, George Washington, was known to the Iroquois as “Town Destroyer”.

In a popular first-person account of the “battle of Bad Axe” – the gruesome culmination of the brutal removal of the Sauk nation from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in the “Black Hawk War” {1} – US Army Major John Allen Wakefield offered some remarkable reflections. “It was a horrid sight”, Wakefield wrote, “to witness little [Native American] children, wounded and suffering the most excruciating pain, although they were of the savage enemy, and the common enemy of the country … It was enough to make the heart of the most hardened being on earth to ache”. But, Wakefield wrote, “I must confess, that it filled my heart with gratitude and joy, to think that I had been instrumental, with many others, in delivering my country of those merciless savages, and restoring those [invading white] people again to their peaceful homes and firesides” – on land that had for centuries hosted homes and firesides for the Sauk.

Such sentiments were common among the genocidal white killers across the centuries of North American “settlement” and ethnic cleansing. From the colonial era on, the savage “settlers” reveled in the mass slaying of indigenous people (including women, children, and older men) they saw as inherently “evil” and (curiously enough) “savage”. “Our Great Father”, a government agent told the Sauks, “will forbear no longer. He has tried to reclaim [Native Americans] and they grow worse. He is resolved to sweep them from the face of the earth … If they cannot be made good they must be killed.”

This kind of truth-inverting narrative, depicting the continent’s peaceful original inhabitants and not their coldblooded butchers as the “merciless savages”, was typical of how the invading white un-“settlers” justified their genocidal extermination of North America’s first civilizations.

During the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, the Native North American Holocaust was meant among other things to clear the way for another kind of Holocaust – the sadistic forced labor and torture regime of Black chattel slavery, the key to the United States’ emergence as a major capitalist power by the mid-nineteenth century. As the United States moved into the railroad and industrial era, its rising accumulation of capital fueled above by lucrative, highly profitable southern cotton slavery, the great Black ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass – the truly great American who Trump seemed last year to see as a living contemporary personality (a rapper like his good friend Kanye West, perhaps) – asked “what, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” His answer:

 

a day that reveals to him … the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings … mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour … Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

 

The two and a half century Holocaust of Black chattel slavery is the persistently unacknowledged and uncompensated historical taproot of a stark Black-white inequality and hyper-segregation that continues to haunt “American” life and feed the nation’s gigantic, historically unmatched system of mass incarceration. The southern Confederacy, whose noxious historical monuments Trump and other white nationalists defend in the name of “history”, treasonously seceded from the Union and forced the Civil War for one clear reason: the southern slave-owning ruling class’s determination that the election of Abraham Lincoln spelled the end of the racist chattel system.

It wasn’t just human beings that the white “settlers” “tamed” – raped,that is – when “America” was “Great”. Between European “settlement” and the aftermath of the Civil War, Predator saw fit to fell 52% of the deciduous US forest east of the Mississippi. A fifth of that remaining woodland bit the dust between 1850 and 1909, thanks to accelerating waves of deforestation led by agricultural clearing and logging in the Great Lakes region and the South (where Black cotton slavery was largely reconstituted in new forms in the last third of the nineteenth century).

Then there was the decline of original wildlife, not so much “tamed” as exterminated. “As the nineteenth century progressed”, the National Park Service reports:

 

wildlife habitat was dramatically reduced by deforestation and wetland filling, combined with over-hunting. New markets for wildlife made killing wildlife a financially profitable venture for hunters, who took advantage of improved transportation methods like railroads to gain access to previously inaccessible areas. The lack of legal protection for wildlife led to the slaughter of many species, some of which were hunted to extinction or near extinction. Wildlife like passenger pigeons and buffalo, which had been extremely abundant, were hunted to extinction(or nearly so). Migratory birds were especially impacted, since there was a huge market for the feathers of birds such as egrets, used to create women’s fashionable hats. (Emphasis added)

 

The elimination of the continent’s once great bison herds was nauseating exterminism. Richard Dodge, an army officer, reported in 1877 that

 

Buffalo were slaughtered without sense or discretion … Where there were myriads of buffalo the year before, there were now myriads of carcasses. The air was foul with sickening stench, and the vast plain, and the vast plain, which only a short twelvemonth before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary, putrid desert.

 

Soon the meat barons of Chicago would devise ways to “tame” – to kill and process on a previously unimaginable scale that brought droves of tourists from around the world to marvel at the modern art and science of animal slaughter – many thousands of cows, pigs, and sheep per day in the giant meatpacking plants of Upton Sinclair’s famously sickening “Jungle”. The harrowing and alienating work carried out in these and other vast new mass-production workplaces across the nation showed that antebellum and Civil War era labor activists were right to remind Americans that slavery took a waged form as well as a chattel form – and that antidemocratic class rule was not limited to the slavery of the US South and the serfdom of Russia.

As mostly white US workers rose against their ruthless exploitation under the rule of “wage slavery” in the rapidly expanding new industrial capitalism of the post-Civil War, the capitalist press not uncommonly justified the bloody repression of striking and marching proletarians and killing of their radical leaders by describing them as “white savages”. As the labor historian James Green noted in his classic study Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and a Bombing That Divided America (2006):

 

Many [US] editorialists relied on animal metaphors to describe the anarchists, whom they branded “ungrateful hyenas”, “incendiary vermin”, and “slavic wolves” … the alien incendiaries were often compared to other hated groups like the menacing Apache Indians. The St Louis Globe-Democrat applied an old frontier adage about “savage” tribes to the new menace. “There are no good anarchists except dead anarchists”, it proclaimed.

 


When railroad workers went out on strike in Chicago, US infantry troops were summoned fresh from Dakotas campaigns against the Sioux to kill dozens of working-class men and boys – “white savages” – on the city’s Southwest side.

“Our ancestors”, Trump said, “triumphed over the worst evils in history” (Trump)? What, like racialized genocide and chattel slavery, the elimination of species, the rampant destruction of natural habitat, the rise of Robber Baron plutocracy, and concentrated wage-slavery on a scale that Karl Marx could barely have imagined? The “taming of the continent” by “our” great gun- and bullwhip-wielding “ancestors” were great triumphs for all of these and terrible historical scourges.

But, of course, the last clause of the final Trump sentence I quoted at the beginning of this essay refers to the twentieth century. By “worst evils in history”, Orange (Truth-) Crush(er) meant German fascism/Nazism and Soviet “communism”. And here there are at least five problems.

First, the United States’ interwar establishment was fairly pleased with European fascism until the Third Reich and its Japanese partner threatened to shut off the world system to America’s rising global economic power. US business class “elites” saw fascism as a welcome disciplining force to crush European trade unions and Leftists and as a bulwark against socialist state in Russia.

Second, Hitler and his fellow Nazi leaders drew considerable inspiration from how the white “settler” US had “tamed” its “inferior races” with genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutal, fascist-like racial terrorism, segregation, and disenfranchisement. The United States’ Indian reservations and Jim Crow South were Social Darwinian role models for the social policy architects of the Third Reich.

Third, it was the Soviet Union by far and away that defeated the supreme evil that was the Nazi regime, at the cost of 25 million dead (the United States lost just 277,000 people in Europe and North Africa during World War Two).

Fourth, for all its considerable flaws, the authoritarian, bureaucratic-collectivist USSR developed a modern and urbanized society with health care and education for all and outside and against the savagely unequal and egoistic, accumulation-mad world capitalist system headquartered in London, New York, and Washington DC. (The US-forced collapse of the Soviet Union and empire led to drastic reductions in the quality of life in Russia and Eastern Europe.)

Fifth, after it joined with USSR in the defeat of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism, the new global Pax Americana expanded upon its earlier history of genocide and slavery to become, well, one of “the worst evils in world history”.

“The problem after a war”, wrote the pacifist A J Muste in 1941, “is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?”

Consistent with Muste’s warning, victorious and relatively unscathed “America” – the only, global-reach Superpower after the “suicide of Europe” and the Nazis’ devastation of much of Russia – went on a global rampage after “winning” World War Two (during which time US imperial policymakers planned to make sure that Washington finally displaced the United Kingdom as global hegemon after the unprecedented carnage ceased). The planetary death toll resulting from the high-powered aggression of the US and its allies and proxies since 1945 runs well into the millions. Along the way, the US has overthrown many dozens of governments (including democratically elected ones); funded, equipped, trained. and provided political cover for a host of US-allied “Third World fascist” regimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; subverted and pre-empted democracy across the planet; interfered in the internal political affairs of nearly every nation on Earth; spread its military installations into more than 100 “sovereign” states; led the world into a permanent arms race humanity can ill-afford; and developed the capacity to blow the world up many times over.

Consistent with its founding genocidal elimination of original North American civilizations that anticipated “modern eco-science” and “maintain[ed] environmental harmony” (Churchill), the United States has also spearheaded the planetary expansion of a rapaciously eco-cideal world capitalist order that has set humanity on course for final environmental catastrophe: the Greenhouse Gassing to Death of Life on Earth, a crime that makes the Nazis look like small-time crooks.

It’s not for nothing that the world’s population has long ranked the US as the leading threat to and on Earth.

Who will tame the United States? With all due respect for the people and forces that have worked to undermine US global hegemony over many years, the final cards are held by the very Earth that so many US-Americans have been falsely led to believe they could conquer. Nature bats last. The record-setting extreme weather that has hit the US (“America”) in recent years are only early bases-on-balls compared to the late-inning World Series grand-slams Mother Nature is going to pulverize “America” and the world with in coming years. The real existential shit hits the fan when we can no longer grow, hunt, and fish enough food, find enough clean water, adequately cool our bodies, and fend off pandemics.

The socio-pathological climate-denier Trump is doing his eco-cidal best to speed that existential moment along. One example among many: but for the opposition of more level-headed operatives in his administration, he would have by now signed an executive order absurdly citing national security concerns as an excuse for forcing regional US electric grid operators to continue purchasing power from coal-burning and nuclear-powered plants that have outlived their normal operational lifespans! What does a malignant, eco-fascistic narcissist like Trump care if the human race joins the anthropogenic Sixth Great Extinction after his death takes its toll and he learns that all the money he stole can never buy back his soul (to paraphrase Bob Dylan)?

“America’s” old, rich, and white masters (Trump is just one of many) – our parasitic “tamers” and takers – think they can pull up the drawbridges to restrict the coming environmental apocalypse to the poor and nonwhite global South and save the dwindling supply of life’s necessities and luxuries for themselves and their families in heavily guarded and automated compounds. But it doesn’t work that way. They can preserve themselves a bit longer than most, but there is “No Planet B” (as the environmentalists say) they can run to after they’ve finally made the planet completely and finally uninhabitable even for the privileged and ecocidal Few. No US-Americans, not even the richest and most powerful ones, can hop planets and galaxies like the Earth-colonizing and Earth-warming aliens who rule America in John Carpenter’s classic left science fiction movie They Live! Even they will be tamed to the point of erasure. As Earth is our witness, the laws of nature always win out in the end. The continent’s original inhabitants knew that. The Holocaust they met in the name of “progress” was not progress.

Endnote

{1} The 1832 “Black Hawk War” was a one-sided affair, typical of the many pitiless mass exterminations committed by supposedly noble “settlers” seeking to “tame the continent”. As penalty for the warrior Black Hawk and his followers’ determination to reclaim rich tribal lands brazenly occupied by whites in northern Illinois, the Sauk and Fox Indians lost 600 people, including hundreds of woman and children. Just seventy soldiers and “settlers” lost their lives. The conflict culminated in the so-called Battle of Bad Axe, on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, near the present-day community of Victory in Southwest Wisconsin. Better described as a massacre than a “battle”, this American military triumph involved US General Henry Atkinson killing every Indian who tried to run for cover or to flee across the Mississippi River. On August 1 1832, Black Hawk’s band reached the Mississippi at its confluence with the Bad Axe River. What followed was an atrocity, committed despite the Indians’ repeated attempts at surrender. “While the Sauk refugees were preparing rafts and canoes, the armed [US] steamboat Warrior arrived”, historian Kerry Trask recounts, “whereupon Black Hawk tried to negotiate with its troops under a flag of truce. The Americans opened fire, killing twenty-three warriors”.

“As we neared them”, one US officer who “served” in the US assault recalled, “they raised a white flag and endeavored to decoy us, but we were a little too old for them”.

Hundreds of Sauk and Fox men, women, and children were shot, clubbed, and bayoneted to death on August 2nd. “US soldiers scalped most of the dead. They cut long strips of flesh from dead and wounded Indians for use as razor strops”. The slaughter was supported by cannon and rifle fire from the aptly named Warrior, which picked off tribal members swimming for their lives.

By Major Wakefield’s account, the US troops at Bad Axe “shrank not from their duty. They all joined in the work of death for death it was. We were by this time fast getting rid of those demons in human shape … the Ruler of the Universe, He who takes vengeance on the guilty, did not design those guilty wretches to escape His vengeance …”

The top “demon in human shape” – the old Sauk warrior Black Hawk – lived six years beyond the “war” that bore his name. He was sent to a US reservation in Iowa after US President Andrew Jackson – a Trump favorite and himself a prolific Indian-killer – had Black Hawk paraded as celebrity war booty – as an exotic “savage” and proof of the United States’ military’s alleged great prowess in defeating such barbarian brutes – before gawking crowds in eastern US cities.

At Chicago’s United Center at least 41 times each National Hockey League season, more than 10,000 US whites wear jerseys emblazoned with a caricature-like profile image of “chief” Black Hawk, whose people were obliterated and dispersed so that northern Illinois’s fertile fields and pastures could be turned into the private property of white farmers, merchants, and industrialists. Oh, but for the return of the days when America was great!

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/26/when-america-was-great-savage-white-un-settlers-raped-a-continent-and-assaulted-a-planet/

Has the US Become a Dictatorship …

… Disguised as a Democracy?

by John W Whitehead

Information Clearing House (October 24 2018)

 

 

The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into a trance. They have made us indifferent to ourselves, to others. We are focused only on our own gain.

They Live (1988), John Carpenter

 

We’re living in two worlds, you and I.

There’s the world we see (or are made to see) and then there’s the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media.

Indeed, what most Americans perceive as life in America – privileged, progressive, and free – is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and “freedom”, such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police armed to the teeth.

All is not as it seems.

 

 

You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they’re people just like you. You’re wrong. Dead wrong.

 

 

This is the premise of John Carpenter’s film They Live, which was released thirty years ago in November 1988 and remains unnervingly, chillingly appropriate for our modern age.

Best known for his horror film Halloween (1978), which assumes that there is a form of evil so dark that it can’t be killed, Carpenter’s larger body of work is infused with a strong anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, laconic bent that speaks to the filmmaker’s concerns about the unraveling of our society, particularly our government.

Time and again, Carpenter portrays the government working against its own citizens, a populace out of touch with reality, technology run amok, and a future more horrific than any horror film.

In Escape from New York (1981), Carpenter presents fascism as the future of America.

In The Thing (1982), a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic of the same name, Carpenter presupposes that increasingly we are all becoming dehumanized.

In Christine (1983), the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a demon-possessed car, technology exhibits a will and consciousness of its own and goes on a murderous rampage.

In In the Mouth of Madness (1995), Carpenter notes that evil grows when people lose “the ability to know the difference between reality and fantasy”.

And then there is Carpenter’s They Live (1988), in which two migrant workers discover that the world is not as it seems. In fact, the population is actually being controlled and exploited by aliens working in partnership with an oligarchic elite. All the while, the populace – blissfully unaware of the real agenda at work in their lives – has been lulled into complacency, indoctrinated into compliance, bombarded with media distractions, and hypnotized by subliminal messages beamed out of television and various electronic devices, billboards, and the like.

It is only when homeless drifter John Nada (played to the hilt by the late Roddy Piper) discovers a pair of doctored sunglasses – Hoffman lenses – that Nada sees what lies beneath the elite’s fabricated reality: control and bondage.

When viewed through the lens of truth, the elite, who appear human until stripped of their disguises, are shown to be monsters who have enslaved the citizenry in order to prey on them.

Likewise, billboards blare out hidden, authoritative messages: a bikini-clad woman in one ad is actually ordering viewers to “MARRY AND REPRODUCE”. Magazine racks scream “CONSUME” and “OBEY”. A wad of dollar bills in a vendor’s hand proclaims, “THIS IS YOUR GOD”.

When viewed through Nada’s Hoffman lenses, some of the other hidden messages being drummed into the people’s subconscious include NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT, CONFORM, SUBMIT, STAY ASLEEP, BUY, WATCH TV, NO IMAGINATION, and DO NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY.

This indoctrination campaign engineered by the elite in They Live is painfully familiar to anyone who has studied the decline of American culture.

A citizenry that does not think for themselves, obeys without question, is submissive, does not challenge authority, does not think outside the box, and is content to sit back and be entertained is a citizenry that can be easily controlled.

In this way, the subtle message of They Live provides an apt analogy of our own distorted vision of life in the American police state, what philosopher Slavoj Zizek refers to as dictatorship in democracy, “the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom”.

We’re being fed a series of carefully contrived fictions that bear no resemblance to reality.

The powers-that-be want us to feel threatened by forces beyond our control (terrorists, shooters, bombers).

They want us afraid and dependent on the government and its militarized armies for our safety and well-being.

They want us distrustful of each other, divided by our prejudices, and at each other’s throats.

Most of all, they want us to continue to march in lockstep with their dictates.

Tune out the government’s attempts to distract, divert, and befuddle us and tune into what’s really going on in this country, and you’ll run headlong into an unmistakable, unpalatable truth: the moneyed elite who rule us view us as expendable resources to be used, abused, and discarded.

In fact, a study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the US government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite”. Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups.

In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism – a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere subjects to be controlled.

Not only do you have to be rich – or beholden to the rich – to get elected these days, but getting elected is also a surefire way to get rich. As CBS News reports,

 

 

Once in office, members of Congress enjoy access to connections and information they can use to increase their wealth, in ways that are unparalleled in the private sector. And once politicians leave office, their connections allow them to profit even further.

 

 

In denouncing this blatant corruption of America’s political system, former president Jimmy Carter blasted the process of getting elected – to the White House, governor’s mansion, Congress, or state legislatures – as

 

 

unlimited political bribery … a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over.

 

 

Rest assured that when and if fascism finally takes hold in America, the basic forms of government will remain: Fascism will appear to be friendly. The legislators will be in session. There will be elections, and the news media will continue to cover the entertainment and political trivia. Consent of the governed, however, will no longer apply. Actual control will have finally passed to the oligarchic elite controlling the government behind the scenes.

Sound familiar?

Clearly, we are now ruled by an oligarchic elite of governmental and corporate interests.

We have moved into “corporatism” (favored by Benito Mussolini), which is a halfway point on the road to full-blown fascism.

Corporatism is where the few moneyed interests – not elected by the citizenry – rule over the many. In this way, it is not a democracy or a republican form of government, which is what the American government was established to be. It is a top-down form of government and one which has a terrifying history typified by the developments that occurred in totalitarian regimes of the past: police states where everyone is watched and spied on, rounded up for minor infractions by government agents, placed under police control, and placed in detention (aka concentration) camps.

For the final hammer of fascism to fall, it will require the most crucial ingredient: the majority of the people will have to agree that it’s not only expedient but necessary.

But why would a people agree to such an oppressive regime?

The answer is the same in every age: fear.

Fear makes people stupid.

Fear is the method most often used by politicians to increase the power of government. And, as most social commentators recognize, an atmosphere of fear permeates modern America: fear of terrorism, fear of the police, fear of our neighbors, and so on.

The propaganda of fear has been used quite effectively by those who want to gain control, and it is working on the American populace.

Despite the fact that we are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack; 11,000 times more likely to die from an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane; 1,048 times more likely to die from a car accident than a terrorist attack, and eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist , we have handed over control of our lives to government officials who treat us as a means to an end – the source of money and power.

As the Bearded Man in They Live warns,

 

 

They are dismantling the sleeping middle class. More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery.

 

 

In this regard, we’re not so different from the oppressed citizens in They Live.

From the moment we are born until we die, we are indoctrinated into believing that those who rule us do it for our own good. The truth is far different.

Despite the truth staring us in the face, we have allowed ourselves to become fearful, controlled, pacified zombies.

We live in a perpetual state of denial, insulated from the painful reality of the American police state by wall-to-wall entertainment news and screen devices.

Most everyone keeps their heads down these days while staring zombie-like into an electronic screen, even when they’re crossing the street. Families sit in restaurants with their heads down, separated by their screen devices and unaware of what’s going on around them. Young people especially seem dominated by the devices they hold in their hands, oblivious to the fact that they can simply push a button, turn the thing off and walk away.

Indeed, there is no larger group activity than that connected with those who watch screens – that is, television, laptops, personal computers, cell phones and so on. In fact, a Nielsen study reports that American screen viewing is at an all-time high. For example, the average American watches approximately 151 hours of television per month.

The question, of course, is what effect does such screen consumption have on one’s mind?

Psychologically it is similar to drug addiction. Researchers found that “almost immediately after turning on the TV, subjects reported feeling more relaxed, and because this occurs so quickly and the tension returns so rapidly after the TV is turned off, people are conditioned to associate TV viewing with a lack of tension”. Research also shows that regardless of the programming, viewers’ brainwaves slow down, thus transforming them into a more passive, non-resistant state.

Historically, television has been used by those in authority to quiet discontent and pacify disruptive people. “Faced with severe overcrowding and limited budgets for rehabilitation and counseling, more and more prison officials are using TV to keep inmates quiet”, according to Newsweek.

Given that the majority of what Americans watch on television is provided through channels controlled by six mega-corporations, what we watch is now controlled by a corporate elite and, if that elite needs to foster a particular viewpoint or pacify its viewers, it can do so on a large scale.

If we’re watching, we’re not doing.

The powers-that-be understand this. As television journalist Edward R Murrow warned in a 1958 speech:

 

 

We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

 

This brings me back to They Live, in which the real zombies are not the aliens calling the shots but the populace who are content to remain controlled.

When all is said and done, the world of They Live is not so different from our own.

We, too, are focused only on our own pleasures, prejudices, and gains. Our poor and underclasses are also growing. Racial injustice is growing. Human rights are nearly nonexistent. We too have been lulled into a trance, indifferent to others.

Oblivious to what lies ahead, we’ve been manipulated into believing that if we continue to consume, obey, and have faith, things will work out. But that’s never been true of emerging regimes. And by the time we feel the hammer coming down upon us, it will be too late.

So where does that leave us?

The characters who populate Carpenter’s films provide some insight.

Underneath their machismo, they still believe in the ideals of liberty and equal opportunity. Their beliefs place them in constant opposition with the law and the establishment, but they are nonetheless freedom fighters.

When, for example, John Nada destroys the alien hyno-transmitter in They Live, he restores hope by delivering America a wake-up call for freedom.

That’s the key right there: we need to wake up.

Stop allowing yourselves to be easily distracted by pointless political spectacles and pay attention to what’s really going on in the country.

The real battle for control of this nation is not being waged between Republicans and Democrats in the ballot box.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (2015), the real battle for control of this nation is taking place on roadsides, in police cars, on witness stands, over phone lines, in government offices, in corporate offices, in public school hallways and classrooms, in parks and city council meetings, and in towns and cities across this country.

The real battle between freedom and tyranny is taking place right in front of our eyes, if we would only open them.

All the trappings of the American police state are now in plain sight.

Wake up, America.

If they live (the tyrants, the oppressors, the invaders, the overlords), it is only because “we the people” sleep.

_____

Constitutional attorney and author John W Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

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http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50500.htm

A Sustainable Global Population …

… and Why We Cannot Achieve it

by Bernard Gillan

https://countercurrents.org (October 26 2018)

In the period 1975~2018, world population increased at an average of 83 million per year and reached 7.6 billion in 2018. The increase in 2017 was the difference between approximately 145 million births and 62 million deaths. Despite population growth, the global average daily food supply per person rose from 2440 kilocalories in 1975 to 2940 kilocalories in 2015 {1}. However, over 800 million people are undernourished and 300 million adults are obese.

Cereals are the most important crops for food and feed; globally, 45 percent of the cereal production is consumed by humans, and 35 percent by livestock. The remainder is used for industrial purposes, including ethanol, beer, whiskey, and vodka. The rise in world cereal production since the 1960s is mainly due to two technological advances. The first was Haber-Bosch ammonia synthesis, in which atmospheric nitrogen is fixed as ammonia (containing 82 percent nitrogen) which plants utilize for protein formation. Production of Haber-Bosch ammonia began in 1913 but did not begin to rise rapidly until the 1960s. The second advance was the Green Revolution that began in the mid-1960s, after agronomist Norman Borlaug had bred varieties of dwarf wheat that give higher yields in response to heavier applications of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. The breeding and use of semi-dwarf rice and hybrid maize paralleled that of wheat.

The most striking achievement of chemical agriculture is the maize yield in the US, which rose from 2.5 tonnes per hectare (forty bushels per acre) in 1950 to 11.0 tonnes per hectare (175 bushels per acre) in 2016. The global cereal yield rose from 2.81 tonnes per hectare in 1992~1996 to 3.91 tonnes in 2012~2016 {2}. Linear extrapolation of the 1992~2016 yield trend (52.3 kilograms per hectare per year) gives a yield of 5.73 tonnes per hectare in 2050. If the population in 2050 is taken as 9.85 billion {3}, and the harvested cereal area remains 718 million hectares (as in 2016), production per person in 2050 would be 420 kilograms, ten percent above the 2016 level of 382 kilograms; the uncertainty is about ten percent either way. Assuming that the global average cereal yield without using nitrogen fertilizer is 1.6 tonnes per hectare and that fertilizer increases grain yield by thirty kilograms per kilogram of nitrogen applied, the global average nitrogen application on cereal crops, eighty kilograms per hectare in 2015, would be approximately 140 kilograms per hectare. If the incremental yield-nitrogen ratio rises to 35 by 2050, the nitrogen application would be 120 kilograms per hectare.

The success of the Green Revolution created three major ecological problems:

1. Globally, about half the applied nitrogen is taken up by the crop plants; the remainder volatilizes in the form of ammonia and nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas) or leaches to groundwater, resulting in eutrophication (the formation of algae) in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters; this creates “dead zones” in which fish cannot live.

2. Applying nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer to crops changes the balance between these nutrients and those needed in small or trace amounts; the latter include calcium, sulfur, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron, and selenium.

3. Approximately forty percent of global irrigation water is obtained by pumping groundwater from tube wells; this has resulted in the depletion of aquifers and the lowering of groundwater levels, thereby contributing 0.4 millimeters to the global sea level rise of 3.4 millimeters per year {4}.

As population growth increases the need for fertilizer, it follows that population reduction would ultimately solve the ecological problems. Unfortunately, human nature is such that global population reduction is not feasible. The reasons for this are given in the following.

In 1950, France had a population of 42 million and twenty million hectares of arable land, that is, two persons per arable hectare. The nitrogen fertilizer application on cereals was negligible, and cereal production per person was about 400 kilograms per year, slightly higher than the present world average. If the ratio of population to arable land were two persons per hectare on the world’s 1.6 billion arable hectares, world population would be 3.2 billion. Reducing world population to this size would mean reducing the global average fertility rate (currently 2.5 children per woman) to 1.5 by 2050 and holding it at that level until 2200. The proportion of the population in the 65+ age-group would rise to 35 percent. Such a drastic change in the age distribution would mean raising the pensionable age to seventy years or more.

Adopting and enforcing a population limit for each country would be an insurmountable obstacle, as Charles Galton Darwin pointed out in 1952 {5}. To lower the global average to two inhabitants per arable hectare, countries such as Canada, Russia, Australia, and Argentina would not be required to reduce their populations, but would not be permitted to reach two inhabitants per arable hectare; they would be obliged to have a grain surplus for export to countries that need grain imports. China and India would each have to reduce its population to roughly 300 million; the combined population of the two countries would then be twenty percent of the world population instead of the present 35 percent {6}. The relative population reductions in Japan and Egypt, which have 30 and 33 inhabitants per arable hectare respectively, would be much greater {6}.

The population of China is projected to peak at 1.45 billion around 2030 and decline to one billion by 2100. This is partly a result of the so-called one-child policy launched in 1979 (in reality a 1.5-child policy). It was replaced by a two-child limit in 2016, but the fertility rate remains 1.6. Japan has a population of 126 million and a fertility rate of 1.4; the population is projected to decline to 102 million in 2050 and sixty million in 2100. These projected long-term declines are likely to be halted by pro-natalist policies based on the advice of growth-obsessed economists who believe that population decline results in a shortage of labor. A world population peak of at least ten billion is almost inevitable, and this would make seventy percent of the world’s population dependent on Haber-Bosch ammonia. This is not sustainable, but there is no solution in sight. As a sustainable population cannot be attained by fertility decline alone, a mortality rise is highly probable. We can only guess when.

_____

Bernard Gillan is an independent researcher with a degree in Engineering, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of several papers on demography and population

Notes and References:

{1} FAOSTAT data.

{2} World Bank data.

{3} Population Reference Bureau. World population data sheet 2018.

{4} Konikov, L F. 2011. Contribution of global groundwater depletion since 1900 to sea-level rise. Geophysical Research Letters, 38; L17401.

{5} Darwin, C G. 1952. The Next Million Years. Hart-Davis, London.

{6} Lionos, T P, A Pseiridis. 2016. Sustainable welfare and optimum population size. Environment, Development, and Sustainability, 18(6), 1679 ~ 1699. According to the authors, the optimum population of the world is 3.1 billion, and the populations (in millions) of the ten most populous countries are:

China 253, India 341, United States 326, Indonesia 88, Brazil 156, Pakistan 43, Nigeria 79, Bangladesh 17, Russia 249, Japan 9.2. The figure for Egypt is 7.4.

https://countercurrents.org/2018/10/26/a-sustainable-global-population-and-why-we-cannot-achieve-it/